January 15th 2018
By Mike Flaminio
We would go to CES and remark at how Apple's dominance loomed over the show. Vendors of all shapes and sizes were rushing to be a part of the Apple ecosystem. Apple's ecosystem was front and center with everything from iOS apps, to accessories galore for iPhone and iPad, and even companies looking to copy Apple in many ways. The last year or so, things have dramatically changed, and that change is further evident at this year's CES.
I've gone to several MacWorld Expos over a span of a decade-plus when it was active. Once Apple pulled out of the show, it seemed the show shifted to CES, in particular with the iOS boom. CES's iProducts zone (formerly iLounge) surpassed any MacWorld Expo I attended. At least in terms of the number and diversity of exhibitors.
That all started shifted three or four years ago I think. At one point, the iProducts area was out of space and I was told booth space was competitive. Year after year it got bigger, then, suddenly it shrunk. Part of that could be the ebb and flow of a gold rush around a booming Apple ecosystem. Now that the growth is leveling out, there aren't as many exhibitors paying big bucks to showcase their stuff. At the same time, the automotive area, which used to sit next to the iProducts area, started growing. As cars became smarter, CES became more important to car makers. I was told pressure was placed on the zone and now it's moved to another hall. Also, some exhibitors that had booths in the zone in the past became got grouped together in new areas around wearables, fitness, drones, etc.
Bajarin suggests a lot of oxygen has been taken up by Amazon Alexa. That may be true, but I think there are a lot of factors at play. One of the biggest could simply be that the ecosystem has grown up. Another is CES continues to get bigger as it expands to other facilities and is ever changing.